Events since this film was made in 1957 have significantly changed both conditions inside China and international attitudes towards that nation. Due to the fact that at that time the US Government recognized the Chiang Kai Shek group on Taiwan as constituting the only legitimate government of China, the Chinese Mainland was referred to as "Red" or "Communist" China. In order to assist our understanding of China's continuing evolution, therefore, this Study Guide remains essentially the same and utilizes the same political terminology as when it was first written during the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s. Viewers can benefit by comparing the conditions and attitudes depicted in this report to the current situation in China from a historical perspective.
Reporting on a six week assignment in China as a NBC-TV Special Correspondent, Robert Carl Cohen presents his observations on the progress of the Communist regime in transforming an ancient agrarian culture into an industrialized society. He has produced, without any Communist censorship, a survey of the many Chinese dynasties and some of the common misconceptions about China. It is apparent that he was allowed a far greater degree of freedom with his camera than would have been imagined, and that indeed a far greater freedom than we have come to expect in Communist Russia. His narration closely follows the camera coverage of the cities and in the countryside, farming, new industries, and numerous other facets of Communist Chinese life. He contrasts the accomplishments and limitations of the Communists in hospital construction and staffing, ship building, theater, truck building, bridge construction, information, transportation, and the propaganda and psychological value of the reconstruction of segments of the Great Wall. The films analysis of the strength of a political party which places modem tools in the hands of a people who for centuries have been dominated by an often famine stricken essentially feudal agricultural economy are enlightening. The national campaign of anti American propaganda utilizing posters and billboards is shown; as are the Communists accomplishments in cleaning up polluted water sources in slum areas such as Shanghai's Soochow Creek. Land redistribution and the village commune system have been promoted and, despite certain drawbacks to this system, the Communists insist that the situation in the countryside is better than it was before they came to power. Other glimpses into life in Communist China include a brief discussion of how even minimal improvements in health standards have resulted in a growing population increase, the role of Mao Tze Tung; and views of a National Day Parade in Peking. Throughout this revealing film Mr. Cohen has maintained a sincere and open approach to Red China today.
SUGGESTED DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1. Why would the Chinese Communists, unlike the Russian Government, permit Mr. Cohen to travel without a guide and take uncensored pictures?
2. In what ways has the Russian Government given assistance to the Chinese Communists since they took power?
3. What has the Red Chinese Government done to help the slum dwellers of the Soochow Creek Area?
4. In terms of what would happen in the USA: If annual floods on the Mississippi River halted all railroad traffic, why was it so essential for the Chinese to bridge the Yangtze River?
5. How have improved hospitals, sanitation, vaccination and medical treatment created a great problem for the Chinese nation? What improvements in the agricultural system would help them to overcome this problem?
6. What was meant by the term "The Great Leap Forward’?
7. What signs can be seen in the film of the influence of Western society on modern day Chinese?
8. Discuss the seeming conflict between (1) The expulsion of missionaries versus the availability of American publications, (2) The existence of a huge political prison system versus the encouragement of literacy and education, (3) The elimination of US military equipment from the National Day Parade versus the use of Swiss assembled American Plymouth automobiles.
9. How has the new Communist regime influenced the classic Chinese theater?
10. Has the US trade embargo and refusal to recognize the government of Red China been successful?
11. What are China's two most critical social and economic problems?
12. What profound changes are being forced, and how are they affecting the traditional social and economic patterns of the Chinese people?
13. What effect could Communist success in China have on the security of the rest of the world?
14. What can the United States and the rest of the Western World do to meet the challenge of China?
CHINA AND ASIA: A CHALLENGE TO AN AMERICAN POLICY
COMMUNISM OF MAO TSE TUNG
OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER RED CHINA TODAY
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNIST CHINA
UNITED STATES AND CHINA